Scientists believe that we have about 6000 thoughts a day though some believe the number may be as high as 60,000. I don't know about you, but a lot of my thoughts aren't helpful. These include:
Any thoughts that aren't of God are from the Devil and John 8:44 says, the devil is a liar. In 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 Paul was concerned that the church was going to be led astray from the truth. He said, The weapons we use in our fight are not the world's weapons but God's powerful weapons, which we use to destroy strongholds. We destroy false arguments; we pull down every proud obstacle that is raised against the knowledge of God; we take every thought captive and make it obey Christ.
We are in a spiritual battle - and the battlefield is our minds. Satan wants to distract and discourage us from loving and serving Jesus with all our heart, soul, strength and mind. One way he does this is to bombard us with all kinds of unhelpful thoughts. We need to put on the armour of God to fight this spiritual battle. Ephesians 6:16-17 says, In every battle you will need faith as your shield to stop the fiery arrows aimed at you by Satan. And you will need the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit—which is the Word of God. We need to apply the truth of God's word and our faith in him to put out the fiery arrows or lies of the devil.
Challenge: What are some unhelpful thoughts/lies that pop into your head regularly? Find Bible passages to put out those lies.
This twenty minute message is well worth listening to. Emotions are something that you have to deal with your whole life - better to learn how to do it in a healthy, godly way while you're young.
The start of the school year can be a very anxious time. Add to that the uncertainty of living through a pandemic with ever-changing restrictions and rules and it's no wonder we're all stressed out! God said to tell him all your worries because he cares about you.
1 Peter 5:7
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
Give your worries to the Lord. He will take care of you. He will never let good people down.
Even though God made the universe and everything in it, he cares about you - your friends, your grades, your family, your relationships, your physical and mental health and much more. God is with you in the happy, good, laughing till you snort times and good hair days. He is also with you during the anxious, lonely, crying till you have snot running down your face days.
For our high priest is able to understand our weaknesses. He was tempted in every way that we are, but he did not sin. Let us, then, feel free to come before God’s throne. Here there is grace. And we can receive mercy and grace to help us when we need it.
Jesus wept when his friend Lazarus died. He was in anguish when he was praying before he was crucified. He was disgusted when the people turned the temple courts into a market place (so much that he tipped over the tables). He experienced shame when he was hung on the cross. He was angry with the hypocritical religious leaders and called them a bunch of snakes. He was frustrated with the lack of faith of the believers.
Jesus can empathise with what you’re going through. He can relate to your worries. He was a human and a teenager. He experienced loneliness, temptation, persecution, happiness, love and everything in between.
Binging is a word you hear a lot - we binge on chocolate, fast food, Netflix, social media, alcohol... I know a lot about binging, I used to have an eating disorder. I know for a fact that in most cases, neither binging or completely denying ourselves is good. God intended us to have balance in our lives. There is nothing wrong with chocolate, fast food, Netflix or alcohol as long as it is part of a balanced life (and you are over the legal drinking age).
Luke 9:23 says, Any of you who want to be my follower must stop thinking about yourself and what you want. When we binge, we are thinking only of ourselves and how to gratify our selfish desires. So how do we stop?
Ephesians 5:18 talks about binge drinking. Paul said, Don’t be drunk with wine, which will ruin your life, but be filled with the Spirit. Here's my paraphrase for the 21st century, Don't binge on wine, chocolate, chips, Maccas, cake, Netflix, Instagram or Snapchat. Instead binge on the things of the Spirit - reading and studying your Bible, prayer, worship, giving thanks. You get drunk on wine by drinking too much of it, so it follows that you become filled with the spirit by feeding it - reading the Bible, praying, meditating on God's Word, singing songs of worship, giving thanks to God for all that he has done for you...
Often binging is triggered by certain emotions or feelings such as despair, hopelessness, depression, guilt, shame, pain... Ironically, binging usually increases these feelings, rather than relieve them. One of the most effective ways of getting our minds off of ourselves is to do something for someone else. Being kind to someone else can be a great release valve to those negative emotions. In Ephesians 4:32 Paul instructed us to Be kind and compassionate to one another. Next time you feel yourself spiralling towards another binge session, do something for someone else - ring or visit a friend (don't just text or message them), make someone a nice card and send it to them, help your mum with the chores, play a board game or computer game with your brother or sister, write positive, encouraging comments on people's social media posts, bake a cake and take it to your neighbour...
It's obviously a bit more complicated than what I've outlined above but next time you feel yourself spiralling out of control and tempted to binge on [insert your weakness here], fill up on the spirit instead of chocolate and be kind to someone. It might not solve all your problems, but it might help.
Today is "R U OK Day" in Australia. I think that a lot of people assume that Christians are happy all of the time and that's just not true. Just because you're a Christian doesn't mean that life is all sunshine and rainbows. We live in a fallen world and are subject to the same mental health challenges, physical illnesses, hormonal mood swings, disappointments, hardships and tough times as the rest of the world. Many mental health disorders are caused by chemical imbalances in the brain so it's not a matter of snapping out of it.
Mark 14:33 tells us that Jesus was "deeply distressed and troubled." Do you know what he did when that happened? He got on his knees and prayed. Here are three things to do if you are not okay:
I have a confession to make, I have been feeling down recently, lacking motivation and feeling overwhelmed. I talked to some friends and saw a psychologist who was able to offer some tools to get through this phase. There is no shame in asking for help - you would be surprised how many people who look like they have it together are actually falling to pieces or are getting help.
So, are you okay?
I love these three verses - they are some of my favourites. Even though they are small they say so much. In the Easy to Read Version verse 16 says, always be full of joy. The Greek word in the original text means to be cheerful. I received a note in my pigeon hole at work this week that said thank "for always being so happy and friendly." The truth is that I haven't felt very happy recently - I have felt emotional and down. That doesn't mean I have to act that way though. I'm not suggesting you ignore your emotions - that's not healthy. You can sit with them for a while and acknowledge them, maybe even journal about them. But you don't have to be led by them. I know some really cheerful people at the moment who are going through some incredibly difficult things.
When I feel down, I try to think of all the things that I'm grateful for, I try to get outside in the fresh air, I put some worship music on and sing along loudly. I know that God has great plans for me and even if this life is difficult, Revelation promises that there will be no tears or sadness in the new heaven and earth - that's something to be cheerful about!
2020 has been a difficult year. Let's face it - it sucks! You might be struggling mentally and emotionally due to Covid-19. You might be in isolation, your family might be struggling financially or tensions at home might be high, you might miss seeing grandparents or family or friends, you might have missed out celebrating a birthday or a family holiday. You might just feel down because of all the bad news in the world at the moment. You are not alone.
If you're a Christian you might be tempted to think that you shouldn't feel this way because of your faith. Until Jesus comes again we are all part of this broken world. We experience hardships, pain, sadness, grief and disappointment just like everyone else. 2 Peter 2:9 says, the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials.
If you are struggling, talk to someone about it - your parents, an aunt, teacher, youth pastor, chaplain or other trusted adult. You may also need to see a counsellor or psychologist. There are people out there who can help you through this difficult season.
If you're in Australia, here are the national crisis numbers:
Lifeline: 13 11 14 or lifeline.org.au
Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467 or suicidecallbackservice.org.au
Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636 or beyondblue.org.au
Headspace: 1800 650 890 Free online and telephone service for 12-25 year olds
Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800 A free, private and confidential, telephone and online counselling service specifically for young people aged between 5 and 25.
Short and sweet inspirations for Christian teen girls.